Until this season, marred by the 'lie-gate' scandal and the uncompetitive MP4-24 McLaren, the Briton's career largely consisted of a series of plaudits and successes.
"Hard times help to build your character," the 24-year-old told Germany's Sport Bild. "In the last few months I've grown up a lot because I learned how to deal with setbacks.
"In that way this year has probably helped me in a personal sense more than any other before it," said Hamilton.
Not only is he for the first time in his racing career at the wheel of an uncompetitive car, Hamilton's personal image took a major hit when he and sacked McLaren manager Dave Ryan were caught lying to stewards in Australia and Malaysia.
Asked how he would handle the same kind of situation now, Hamilton answers: "I would take a step back and listen to my instincts. The doubts I had, about whether I should be lying, I would take much more seriously."
As for his 2009 car, Hamilton believes a podium later this season is a possibility, but is much more focused on mounting a serious title challenge in 2010.
"It doesn't really interest us anymore where we are at the end of the championship. We have to do everything we can now to make sure we have the best car in the field next year," said Hamilton.